Is High-Frequency Trading the Root of our Problems? It is the Economy, Stupid!

Posted on February 21, 2013. Filed under: Conference, Debt Ceiling, Economy, Financial Crisis, Fiscal Cliff, Flash Crash, Securities and Exchange Commission | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Edgar Perez, Author, 'The Speed Traders' and 'Knightmare in Wall Street'

Edgar Perez, Author, ‘The Speed Traders’ and ‘Knightmare in Wall Street’

Beyond the memories of the recent financial crisis and doubts about the safety and fairness of the equity markets, events such as the Flash Crash of May 2010, the hugely distressing Facebook NASDAQ initial public offering and trading malfunctions at Knight Capital and Nasdaq OMX were wrongly associated with high-frequency trading (HFT) and characterized as shocks to the psyche of average investors. The around $130 billion outflows from domestic equity mutual funds in 2012 led to Joe Saluzzi, co-head of trading at Themis Trading, to say as recently as of December 2012 that “all of those events are confidence-shattering events.”

Furthermore, U.S. congressman Ed Markey tried to persuade the SEC that high-frequency trading was driving investors off the electronic trading highway completely because it was eroding confidence in U.S. markets. Congressman Markey wrote that “sophisticated trading firms can make full use of light speed HFT algorithms, while the ordinary investor day-trading his 401k remains at more terrestrial speeds. There is a real risk that algorithmic trading is making investors hesitant to re-enter the equity markets because they fear that the entire game is rigged.” Ultimately, he proposed that HFT should be curtailed immediately.

Data from Trim Tabs Investment Research appeared to support Mr. Saluzzi and Congressman Markey’s concerns. Their data show outflows from U.S. equity mutual funds in 2008 hit a record $148 billion; in 2009, confidence appeared to be stabilizing as outflows from U.S. equity mutual funds totaled just $28 billion, only to grow again in 2010 to hit $81 billion, $132 billion in 2011 and last year totaled $130 billion. So what would they say now that the Washington-based Investment Company Institute has revealed that equity mutual funds have gathered $29.9 billion in January’s first three weeks, more than for any full month since 2006? Moreover, long-term funds, which exclude money-market vehicles, attracted $64.8 billion in the first three weeks of the month. The previous record was $52.6 billion for all of May 2009.

What was the catalyst of the change in trend? Was HFT suddenly disappearing from the equity markets? As we have suspected in the past, it was the health of the economy. The dysfunctional behavior of the leadership in Washington, leading to a crisis of significant proportions in December 2012, was holding market participants from making investment decisions; when Washington still managed to temporarily solve the fiscal cliff issue, allowing the government to remove its borrowing cap and removing the terrifying prospect of sovereign default, investors rushed into stocks (and bonds too), setting the stage for the biggest month on record for deposits into U.S. mutual funds.

We are looking at forces beyond the niche of algorithmic and high-frequency trading in action here. Signs of improvement in the U.S. economy and a rising stock market (that pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 14,000 on February 1 for the first time since 2007) are now prompting Americans to step up their investments. Hiring climbed in January as well, providing further evidence that the U.S. labor market is making progress. As the economy overall makes progress, inflows will increase as more and more households and companies start to invest in the financial markets, creating a net impact in the real economy, and further reinforcing the performance of the markets. Once again, the phrase “it is the economy, stupid!” remains as valid as ever.

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高频交易是否问题的根源?

Posted on February 6, 2013. Filed under: Debt Ceiling, Economy, Financial Crisis, Fiscal Cliff, Securities, Securities and Exchange Commission | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Speed Traders: An Insider’s Look at the New High-Frequency Trading Phenomenon That is Transforming the Investing World

“高频交易”(High-frequency Trade),是指大型投资机构利用自己的高速计算机,在极短时间内判断出有价值的信息,从而先于市场的其他投资者进行交易,这种交易的特点是大量不停地买卖。

文/新浪财经北美特约撰稿人埃德加-佩雷兹[微博]

2010年5月的“闪电崩盘”及Facebook在骑士资本和纳斯达克的IPO交易故障等事件,都被错误地与高频交易联系到一起,被描绘为对普通投资者造成灵魂冲击。但真正原因是经济健康问题。It is the economy, stupid。这个短语仍旧有效。

除了与最近一次金融危机有关的记忆以及有关股票市场安全性和公平性的疑问以外,2010年5月份的“闪电崩盘”及Facebook在骑士资本和纳斯达克市场上令人感到非常沮丧的IPO(首次公开招股)交易故障等事件都被错误地与高频交易联系到一起,被描绘为对普通投资者造成了灵魂冲击。

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How VaR Modeling Gone Wrong Cut Pay of Wall Street’s Most Powerful CEO, JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, by Half

Posted on January 17, 2013. Filed under: Financial Crisis, Fixed Income, Operations, Securities, Strategies | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon (Eric Piermont / AFP/Getty)

JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon (Eric Piermont / AFP/Getty)

President Barack Obama’s favorite Wall Street CEO, JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon is facing more than having his pay cut in half to $11.5 million for 2012, compared with $23 million a year earlier. He is facing the prospect of seeing his reputation, cemented until now by his smart handling of the bank during the financial crisis, becoming tarnished as he has been deemed ultimate responsible for the banks’ loss of more than $6.2 billion in the first nine months of 2012 on bets by U.K. trader Bruno Iksil, nicknamed the London Whale, who operated under Chief Investment Officer Ina Drew.

The Chief Investment Office (CIO) was supposed to manage excess cash while minimizing risk using credit derivatives as part of a hedging strategy; instead, their trades became so large that the bank couldn’t easily unwind them. At the bottom of this miscalculation were blunders in the development, testing and approval of a new VaR model to measure the risk of their Synthetic Credit Portfolio.

VaR (Value at Risk) is a metric that attempts to estimate the risk of loss on a portfolio of assets. A portfolio’s VaR represents an estimate of the maximum expected mark-to-market loss over a specified time period, generally one day, at a stated confidence level, assuming historical market conditions. Through January 2012, according to the 129-page report from a task force led by Michael Cavanagh, co-head of the firm’s corporate and investment bank, the VaR for the Synthetic Credit Portfolio was calculated using a “linear sensitivity model,” also known within the Firm as the “Basel I model,” because it was used for purposes of Basel I capital calculations and for external reporting purposes. The Basel I model captured the major risk facing the Synthetic Credit Portfolio at the time, which was the potential for loss attributable to movements in credit spreads.

However, the model was limited in the manner in which it estimated correlation risk: that is, the risk that defaults of the components within the index would correlate. As the value of the tranche positions in the Synthetic Credit Portfolio increased, this limitation became more significant, as the value of these positions was driven in large part by the extent to which the positions in the index were correlated to each other. The main risk with the tranche positions was that regardless of credit risk in general, defaults might be more or less correlated.

This limitation meant that the Basel I model likely would not comply with the requirements of Basel II.5, which originally had been expected to be formally adopted in the United States at the end of 2011. One of the traders responsible for the Synthetic Credit Portfolio therefore instructed an expert in quantitative finance within the Quantitative Research team for CIO to develop a new VaR model for the Synthetic Credit Portfolio that would comply with the requirements of Basel II.5. They believed that the Basel I model was too conservative, that it was producing a higher VaR than was appropriate.

Early in the development process, CIO considered and rejected a proposal to adopt the VaR model used by the Investment Bank’s credit hybrids business for the Synthetic Credit Portfolio. Because the Investment Bank traded many customized and illiquid CDSs, its VaR model mapped individual instruments to a combination of indices and single name proxies, which CIO Market Risk viewed as less accurate for CIO’s purposes than mapping to the index as a whole. He believed that, because the Synthetic Credit Portfolio, unlike the Investment Bank, traded indices and index tranches, the Investment Bank’s approach was not appropriate for CIO. The Model Review Group agreed and, in an early draft of its approval of the model, described CIO’s model as “superior” to that used by the Investment Bank.

The Model Review Group, charged with the formal approval of the model, performed only limited back-testing, comparing the VaR under the new model computed using historical data to the daily profit-and-loss over a subset of trading days during a two-month period, not even close to a typically required period of 264 previous trading days, a year. In addition, they were pressured by the CIO to accelerate its review, overlooking operational flaws apparent during the approval process; for instance, it was found later that the model operated through a series of Excel spreadsheets, which had to be completed manually, by a process of copying and pasting data from one spreadsheet to another. The Model Review Group discovered that, for purposes of a pricing step used in the VaR calculation, CIO was using something called the “West End” analytic suite rather than Numerix, an approved vendor model. CIO assured the Model Review Group that both valuations were in “good agreement.”

Sandy Weill, left, and Jamie Dimon, then with American Express, at a conference in California in 1983.   (Photo: Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis)

Sandy Weill, left, and Jamie Dimon, then with American Express, at a conference in California in 1983. (Photo: Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis)

On January 30, the Model Review Group finally authorized CIO Market Risk to use the new VaR model which would utilize the Gaussian Copula model, a commonly accepted model used to map the approximate correlation between two variables, to calculate hazard rates and correlations. A hazard rate is the probability of failure per unit of time of items in operation, sometimes estimated as a ratio of the number of failures to the accumulated operating time for the items. For purposes of the model, the hazard rate estimated the probability of default for a unit of time for each of the underlying names in the portfolio.

Once in operation, a spreadsheet error caused the VaR for April 10 to fail to reflect the day’s $400 million loss in the Synthetic Credit Portfolio. This error was noticed, first by personnel in the Investment Bank, and by the modeler and CIO Market Risk, and was corrected promptly. Because it was viewed as a one-off error, it did not trigger further inquiry. Later in May, in response to further losses in the Synthetic Credit Portfolio, a review of the West End calculated discovered that it was using the Uniform Rate model rather than Gaussian Copula model, contrary to the Model Review Group approval.

Although this error did not have a significant effect on the VaR, an operational error was found in the calculation of the relative changes in hazard rates and correlation estimates. Specifically, after subtracting the old rate from the new rate, the spreadsheet divided the result by their sum instead of their average, as the modeler had intended. This error likely had the effect of muting volatility by a factor of two and of lowering the VaR, minimizing the estimate of the potential loss in the Synthetic Credit Portfolio, which ultimately grew to more than $6.2 billion. Despite this humongous loss, JPMorgan Chase disclosed full-year 2012 record net income of $21.3 billion on revenue of $99.9 billion, guaranteeing Dimon’s survival at the helm for the moment.

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Edgar Perez, The Speed Traders Workshop 2012 Sao Paulo, Quoted by CNBC on Can ‘Trading on Tweets’ Really Make Money?

Posted on January 24, 2012. Filed under: Exchanges, Flash Crash, Practitioners, Strategies, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Edgar Perez, Adjunct Professor at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University and presenter at The Speed Traders Workshop 2012 Sao Paulo: How High Frequency Traders Leverage Profitable Strategies to Find Alpha in Equities, Options, Futures and FX

Edgar Perez, Adjunct Professor at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University

Edgar Perez, Adjunct Professor at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University and presenter at The Speed Traders Workshop 2012 Sao Paulo: How High Frequency Traders Leverage Profitable Strategies to Find Alpha in Equities, Options, Futures and FX, February 8th, BM&FBovespa, was quoted by CNBC.com on the note “Can ‘Trading on Tweets’ Really Make Money?“.

CNBC’s Antonya Allen pointed out that social media websites like Twitter and Facebook have become increasingly important to high frequency traders looking to anticipate market moves before they happen; however, she asked, could they eventually become as significant as traditional business news providers in the world of high speed trading?

Edgar Perez, author of The Speed Traders: An Insider’s Look at the New High-Frequency Trading Phenomenon That Is Transforming the Investing World, said he has not come across a trader who had made money from information supplied on social networking sites. In his book, Edgar Perez follows six high speed traders and examines how ultra fast trading could develop in the future.

“I would be very interested in seeing cases where people actually made money using information from Twitter. Remember there’s a lag there of time and with high frequency trading you want to make sure you connect directly and don’t have any third party providers for information,” Perez explained.

Mr. Perez is widely regarded as the preeminent speaker and networker in the specialized area of high-frequency trading. He has been featured on CNBC Cash Flow (with Oriel Morrison), CNBC Squawk Box (with Geoff Cutmore), BNN Business Day (with Kim Parlee), TheStreet.com (with Gregg Greenberg), Channel NewsAsia Asia Business Tonight and Cents & Sensibilities (with Lin Xue Ling), NHK World, iMoney Hong Kong, Hedge Fund Brief, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Dallas Morning News, Los Angeles Times, TODAY Online, Oriental Daily News and Business Times. He has been engaged as speaker at Harvard Business School’s 17th Annual Venture Capital & Private Equity Conference, High-Frequency Trading Leaders Forum 2011 (New York, Chicago, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Singapore), CFA Singapore, Hong Kong Securities Institute, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University (New York), Global Growth Markets Forum (London), Technical Analysis Society (Singapore), TradeTech Asia (Singapore), FIXGlobal Face2Face (Seoul), and 2nd Private Equity Convention Russia, CIS & Eurasia (London), among other global forums.

The Speed Traders Workshop 2012 Sao Paulo will reveal how high-frequency trading players are succeeding in the global markets and driving the development of algorithmic trading at breakneck speeds from the U.S. and Europe to India, Singapore and Brazil. The Speed Traders Workshop 2012 Sao Paulo kicks off a series of presentations in the world’s most important financial centers: Dubai, January 25; Seoul, South Korea, March 28; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 11; Warsaw, Poland, May 11; Kiev, Ukraine, May 18; Singapore, May 26; Shanghai, China, June 6; Jakarta, Indonesia, June 13; Mexico City, Mexico, July 27; Hong Kong, August 4, and Moscow, Russia, August 10.

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High Frequency Trading in Brazil, Mirage or Miracle? Find out at The Speed Traders Workshop 2012 Sao Paulo, February 8th

Posted on January 20, 2012. Filed under: Event Announcements, Exchanges, Flash Crash, Practitioners, Strategies, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Speed Traders Workshop 2012 Sao Paulo: How High Frequency Traders Leverage Profitable Strategies to Find Alpha in Equities, Options, Futures and FX

The Speed Traders Workshop 2012 Sao Paulo

Christian Zimmer, Head of Quantitative Trading and Research, and Hellinton Hatsuo Takada, Quantitative Trader, of Itaú Asset Management, compare the term high-frequency trading (HFT) to ‘Cleopatra’– sexy and mysterious and everyone is keen to know more about it. But the term HFT speaks for itself, so is it wasting time to go over it again? Probably not for the attendees to The Speed Traders Workshop 2012 Sao Paulo: How High Frequency Traders Leverage Profitable Strategies to Find Alpha in Equities, Options, Futures and FX, February 8th, BM&FBovespa, to be led by Mr. Edgar Perez, Adjunct Professor at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University.

Zimmer and Hatsuo suggest at FIX GLOBAL TRADING to look at the underlying trading strategies. The incentives an exchange should create to attract flow must be adjusted to the strategies that are really needed. Each strategy deserves a different set of policies and this will help the diversification of the traders’ strategies.

A trader using a market maker strategy can live with exchange fees as long as the bid-ask spread is sufficiently high. If the spread narrows, the costs become crucial and the exchange must lower the fees in order to keep this client in the market. On the other hand, a directional trader has different issues; if the fees are high, a trader must wait longer for a relevant price move so that they can capitalize on their position. Contrary to the market maker, the directional trader loves to see narrow bid-ask spreads. There would be no need to lower fees when the spread is close. The same is true for the statistical arbitrage traders.

When looking at the third party analyses of HFT in the international markets, Zimmer and Hatsuo see that the most common strategy is the market maker approach. This fact is strongly influenced by market fragmentation, which they do not have in Brazil. Fragmentation creates new intermarket trades, which could qualify as arbitrage trades, but not necessarily as market maker trades. Fragmentation also makes exchanges and other venues compete for the customers that provide liquidity and, as a result, give incentives to market makers. As mentioned above, Brazil does not have a fragmented market and BM&FBOVESPA does not see it necessary to ask for more liquidity. At least not as long as international capital flows are strong and increasing. Liquidity is needed in second tier shares and below.

The Speed Traders Workshop 2012 Sao Paulo, led by Edgar Perez, author, The Speed Traders,  will reveal how high-frequency trading players are succeeding in the global markets and driving the development of algorithmic trading at breakneck speeds from the U.S. and Europe to India, Singapore and Brazil. The Speed Traders Workshop 2012 Sao Paulo kicks off a series of presentations in the world’s most important financial centers: Dubai, January 25; Seoul, South Korea, March 28; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 11; Warsaw, Poland, May 11; Kiev, Ukraine, May 18; Singapore, May 26; Shanghai, China, June 6; Jakarta, Indonesia, June 13; Mexico City, Mexico, July 27; Hong Kong, August 4, and Moscow, Russia, August 10.

Mr. Perez is one of the great business networkers and motivators on the lecture circuit; he is available worldwide for the following speaking engagements: Present and Future of High-Frequency Trading, The Real Story behind the “Flash Crash”, Networking for Financial Executives, and Business Networking for Success.

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For Edgar Perez, Author, The Speed Traders, Increased Volumes and Volatility to Feed High-Frequency Trading on Monday

Posted on August 6, 2011. Filed under: Economy, Exchanges, Financial Crisis, Fixed Income, Securities | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

For Edgar Perez, Author, The Speed Traders, S&P Debt Downgrade Wake-Up Call to Get Serious about U.S. EconomyMr. Edgar Perez, author of The Speed Traders, An Insider’s Look at the New High-Frequency Trading Phenomenon That is Transforming the Investing World (http://www.thespeedtraders.com), wrote on Modern Finance Report (http://www.modernfinancereport.com) that a short-term stock plunge (increase of volume) and a spike in volatility on Monday are reasonably expected given S&P’s downgrade of the U.S. debt rating; the U.S. stock market was coming off its worst week since the financial crisis. “So we have here two of the main requirements for high-frequency trading, volume and volatility. Therefore, it will be reasonable to expect Monday to be a busy day for speed traders, as they provide the liquidity long-term investors will need to survive the day.”
Mr. Perez indicated that he would not be inclined to kill the messenger and instead see S&P’s decision in a positive light as it should serve as an effective wake-up call to get Washington’s warring players to the negotiating table again. He gave the example of S&P’s past decision to put the UK’s AAA-rating on negative outlook in May 2009, which fueled a debate on the need for significant fiscal tightening, and tough decisions taken by the new coalition government, which were eventually rewarded by S&P with the UK’s outlook being revised back up to stable in October last year.

Mr. Perez wrote: “We cannot deny the significant psychological impact of S&P’s decision on the markets and the view of foreign governments and investors of the U.S. economy. However, I expect Monday’ stock plunge to be a short-term event that will lose steam quickly. In fact, investors can be tempted to use it as reason to snatch value plays, as there would have not been a fundamental change from where we were last Friday. At the end of the day, S&P’s main theme, that U.S. finances are in bad shape, is not news to investors and traders; for instance, Pimco, the world’s largest bond fund, had stepped away from US government debt back in March; in addition, savvy money managers had already positioned themselves for a potential rating downgrade.”

For Edgar Perez, Author, The Speed Traders, S&P Debt Downgrade Wake-Up Call to Get Serious about U.S. EconomyFinally, he summarized: “I agree with experts who sustain that the downgrade will not lead to sharp rises of lending rates to the corporate sector or households in the U.S., as Fitch and Moody’s still maintain their top rating for U.S. debt. Also, a sudden sell off of U.S. Treasury instruments looks unlikely, as there are still not many safe assets to replace them. Once the dust settles, attention will turn back to the economic fundamentals. Disregarding the S&P downgrade comes with high risk for the U.S. economy, particularly if Washington prioritizes electoral concerns over the long-term health of this great nation, the United States of America.”

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